Downtown business owner Dixie Brewer is fighting back.
Brewer's In Your Wildest Dreams consignment store at 19th and Q streets has been the target of theft, malicious destruction of property and graffiti as the number of street people — many of whom she says are on hard drugs or suffering from mental illness — has multiplied.
"I'm not giving up," Brewer said Tuesday, her eyes betraying a kind of crazy, smiling determination.
On Tuesday, the downtown businesswoman was having additional security measures installed around the perimeter of her store. Rather than throw up her hands in frustration — or throw in the towel in defeat — Brewer was raising the stakes.
"I already had lights," she said. "I'm adding more lights. Brighter lights. And motion detectors.
"They walk by and they're lighted up."
Brewer is a firm believer that people with a history of unlawful behavior are less likely to act on their proclivities when their figures and faces are frozen in a stark, white spotlight.
One thing is sure: The status quo is not working.
On Saturday, H. Walker's Clothing on 17th and K streets suffered a broken window. But they soon had the glass replaced.
Circle Deli at the Garces Circle was broken into at 12:54 p.m. Monday, but Bakersfield police responded making one arrest that may be connected to the burglary, the BPD said Tuesday.
Overnight Sunday, someone broke a window at Mill Creek Antique Mall on 19th Street, and stole four antique pickle casters with sterling silver bases, worth hundreds of dollars.
Owner Rick Freels is feeling the anger and frustration. He said another window was broken earlier this year, but it appeared to be a case of senseless vandalism with no other apparent motive other than malicious intent or mental illness.
But Freels has gone after offenders, following one and even identifying her. But he said police were unable to make an arrest.
Still, he and other downtown business people are fighting back.
Many meet regularly to compare notes, ask advice and learn about what security measures might work for them.
“This stuff will eat up your profit margin,” said Terri Sunderman, co-owner of Central Park Antique Mall in downtown Bakersfield, which has also been hit.